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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Mitsuyo Kitao (female)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Nara

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
1. The day after I was exposed to the atomic bomb I walked from south to north through the central part of the burned out ruins, heading for my parents' home in Sotome-cho. On the road, someone wrapped in a straw mat grabbed hold of my leg and cried, "Water, please!".

Quite a number of bodies were piled up on the ground. Near the mountains I heard people crying out the names of their parents and children as I passed by. All my life I will never forget the moans of victims who suffered burns over their entire bodies.

2. We all suffered in those days. May the souls of the dead rest in peace, and may they watch over us and help us rid the world of atomic weapons.

3. It seems that quite a few young people are not fully aware of the horrors of the atomic bomb. I worry that our anti-bomb movement might not be enough.

After finishing nursing school in 1945, I worked at the hospital in Nagasaki. I was seventeen years old. The "all clear" signal had just been given, and I was on my way to the ticket office to get a ferry ticket back to my parents' home in Sotome-cho, Nagasaki Prefecture. A woman emerged from a house carrying a clay cooking brazier in her arms and asked me, "Do you hear an explosion?" The moment I looked up at the sky, my eyes were pierced by a blinding flash. I instinctively jumped into the gutter at the side of the road, just as the explosion sounded. I crouched, covering my head with an anti-air raid hood, and squeezed my eyes shut.

I thought in my heart, "I am destined to die here," and resigned myself to accept my fate.

After a while, I found myself safe and stuck my head out of the gutter in fear. I could dimly make out a heap of rubble in the columns of black smoke. In a daze I hurried back to the hospital and never saw the woman holding the brazier again.

Back at the hospital the wounded arrived at a steady pace, badly burned and bloodstained with serious wounds to their heads. I helped to treat them with antiseptic. At dusk, fires still lingered on both sides of the road, and the bodies of the dead were piled up, with some still in the posture of trying to escape,. I will never be able to stop hearing the heartrending cries of people looking for their missing family members.

When I finally arrived at my parents' home, after walking about 40 kilometers on dark roads, it was very late at night.

The following day we held an official village funeral service for my older brother who had died in battle. He had been strict while alive but he was also very kind. In great contrast to our sorrowful hearts, the summer day was bright with sunshine.

Here I will close my memoir with the hope that at Nagasaki we saw the last atomic bombing in the word. I extend my deep condolences to all of the many victims.